Your opinion is important for us, so instead of just releasing new guidelines for the community, we want to share the current draft with you and discuss these points since they might have a big impact on the platform in the future.
This month, we already reached the mark of being over 40.000 members within this community, sharing the most beautiful places for photographers and travellers. This is a good reason to finally publish a draft for the new community guidelines, which for now mainly affect uploading photos and creating spots. When I founded this platform a few years ago, I never imagined that it could grow that fast and that so many awesome people around the world would work on this "Wikipedia-like" database for photo spots together. I already thought about every change I or we made to the platform very carefully and almost every decision about how Locationscout works meant lots of discussions and endless nights thinking about it in advance.
A good example are spots and why the spot uploader makes suggestions about possible duplicates. This alone took me weeks to think about, change my opinion a few times while always keeping in mind what would help me or you as a photographer/traveller the most in the future.
So the question is: Should everybody own his own spots or should the data be combined into one spot?
Since it would need a lot of programmatic changes to the platform it was extremely important to decide and if possible stick with this decision for a long time. As you might know already, I did decide to start with combined spots because this is, in my opinion, the only way to have great information about these places in the future. Having to search through 100 duplicated spots to get everything I might need for my trip just isn't convenient, although it was a hard path to design the features in a way that users don't feel bad when somebody else would optimize the information within a spot or somebody who wants to upload a new photo is fine with putting it into an existing spot. So I hope you feel with me when I tell you that I tried to balance different perspectives and opinions to create the best basis for this platform in the future.
Until now, our goal was to reach a critical mass of spots that would help the community to plan trips more easily and share places they enjoyed. Having no spot at all at the place you want to go wouldn't be satisfying, but many regions already have so many spots right now that the next focus should be more and more about the quality of these places, so lets finally start with the draft of new guidelines to achieve this new goal together that everybody might benefit from.
The following ideas are not ordered by the importance. The number is just there to make it easier to discuss a specific guideline in the comments below. The summarized basic idea is: "Would you find it helpful to discover the spot/photo you want to share when travelling to this region and how should that spot look like to help you find this place?"
1. Don’t create a new spot if the exact same spot is existing already
I talked about the reason already in the intro above. Having duplicates is something that we will clean up in the future anyway because having 20 spots for the same perspective is just not helpful for anybody. The photo lists within locations and countries are already ordered in a way that a photo that was added could be in front of the initial photo, so adding a photo to a spot shouldn't have a negative impact on your photo being seen. Quite the opposite is the case. While your photo on other platforms will never be seen again after a few days when you shared it, your photo might be seen again and again when somebody else adds a photo to the existing spot. This is something I experience a lot with my photos and why I think that this is a huge benefit for every photographer.
2. Don’t upload a photo to a spot that’s taken from a different place
This is the opposite of 1. and which is something I see a lot. Keep in mind that if you would see a spot with photos in a radius of 1000m or more, then the spot won't help anybody, especially if they don't know the region or city where these photos were taken. I know it's more effort to create multiple spots but we already tried to make it as easy as possible to create them.
3. Don’t upload all photos you took from one Location into one Spot
Almost the same as 2. but with a new spot that contains all the photos from one location or even a whole vacation. This won’t help anybody to find these places - a spot should only contain other photos that are taken from the same spot with nearly the same direction. This is already a point why I already though about limiting the photos per spot per user to 2 or 3 photos, which would mean that everybody should focus around the best results instead of just uploading tons of nearly equal photos into one spot. Feel free to share your opinion on this thought in the comments below.
4. Don’t post food photos
It's not about food photos in general. The basic idea behind this guideline is, that Locationscout is focused around spots. Having a spot with a beautiful photo of pasta is in most cases just not helpful for other photographers, since it's too generic. The same applies to random stones on the ground, letterings in the sand of a beach etc. Anything that wouldn't be there when I would go there is not that helpful on most of the cases. Exceptions confirm the rule, so a beautiful food market that is at a place every Wednesday might be a good spot.
5. Don't upload photos that you didn't take yourself
No words needed I guess. Please just don't and only upload photos you took yourself. Respecting the copyright of others is extremely important for us.
6. Don’t upload photos from people that don’t want to be shared online, photos of children are a No-Go in general and will be deleted immediately
This is self-explaining as well. If you share photos of people, especially if you can see their faces, make sure that it is fine for them to be shared online. Not everybody wants to be seen on a platform and you should respect that. Another good example is schools. Please don't share photos of kids going to school, because you wouldn't expose details like that about your kids as well on the web, would you?
7. Don’t use daytimes as a spot title, because others might add other images to this spot
This is a learning I had to make as well since the platform started with just a few spots and now they can be edited by everyone and more and more spots contain a lot of photos. So always keep in mind to title a spot based on the geography and not based on your specific photo.
8. Don’t just upload a photo with no information about the spot
I get a lot of feedback via email about this and I personally prefer an exactly marked spot without a description over no spot at all. But if English is a problem, just use DeepL or Google Translate and write the texts in your own language before you copy and paste the English translation into the description. Having at least some details, especially about the travel information is so valuable to others and they will be thankful to have these details.
9. Don’t upload the same photos to multiple spots
When duplicate spots exist, please don't upload the same photo to all of them. Your profile gallery will look weird and they won't rank better or help anybody since duplicate spots will be merged in the future anyway.
Here is some space for additional recommendations that might improve the content quality overall without being a strict guideline.
A. Try to avoid big photo borders (Copyright / Logo in an adequate size is fine of course), because it looks weird in the previews
Locationscout is creating multiple thumbnails of your photos to show them in your profile gallery, in the home feed, the locations, countries, themes etc. Having huge borders in these galleries looks weird and in almost every case these borders are grabbing the viewers attention away from your beautiful photo, which is why I personally always recommend leaving your photo as it is, independently from uploading it to Locationscout.
That said, having huge copyright logos on a photo is fine of course, but keep in mind that this will lower the quality of your photo because it grabs a lot of attention. If you want to advertise for your website, just add it to your profile and it will be shown directly below the photo as a clickable link, which is also great for your ranking in Google.
B. Try to write about what would help you when you haven’t been at this spot yet instead of writing the texts solely about your photo
Keep in mind that Locationscout tries to be different than other photo-sharing platforms that already exist in the web and that having the next photo-sharing platform simply wouldn't make sense. That's why Locationscout is focused around all these beautiful places out there and about sharing them with the community. Writing the texts as if you would try to go there for the first time is the most helpful thing you can do and something that is highly appreciated by other travellers. The great part about that: Even if you are a beginner you don't need to worry so much about your photographic skills since adding a spot with helpful details is still valuable for others and you can read our Blog to learn new techniques or join our Facebook Community to ask questions.
As I said already, these guidelines are not finished yet and I want to keep the amount as low as possible because nobody likes rules, me included. Nevertheless, I feel that these might help to improve the quality of the content even more. With over 4.000 text changes to existing spots by the community, we are already on a good way, thank you very much to anybody who suggested a change to an existing spot already! That's awesome.
To prevent and merge duplicated spots, we already implemented a report feature within the last few weeks, so that you are now able to report almost everything on this platform if you think that something is wrong about it and you can't fix it yourself. The reason behind this feature is, that it is a requirement by Apple if we want to get listed in the app store with the app (iOS + Android) we want to release soon, but I hope that it will help to improve the content as well in the future.
Thank you for your honest opinion in the comments below about the guidelines and about the format of this blog post (if you would like to read more about "behind the scenes" of developing this platform). Feel free to write me a mail as well to [email protected] if you want to share your thoughts privately.